After non-stop crashing, the first race of the St Francis Tulsa Tough came down to a very small field sprint after a split in the field led a 10-rider chase group to catch the 5-rider break with half a lap to go. Emerging from the chase group, Australian Crit Champion Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia) took the win at the Blue Dome Crit. Jamis/Sutter Home’s Borrajo brothers rounded off the podium, with Anibal in second who also was in the chase group and from the break, Alejandro held on to third. After being in two breaks, including the one that – almost – stuck, Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly) took fourth behind his teammate Brad Huff.
Read on to see what Cantwell, Ani and Ale Borrajo and Hanson had to say after the race.
Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia). “It was a fast race, it was dangerous, we started off with the roads really wet, it was always a race today where you had to be up front all the time. It was all about positioning. My guys rode extremely well to protect me and Ben Kersten. The wheels behind me on the last lap crashed. I stuck with Jamis, they were the guys to beat, they have a full team here, I stayed smart, rode behind them and behind my guys, I’m glad to get the first win at Tulsa Tough.”
About the last lap. “It was crazy. Jamis are the guys that have a full roster here, whenever a team comes with a full roster 7 or 8 guys, against 4 or 5 guys in the team, they were so aggressive for the whole race. I think Anibal Borrajo was in the break. I actually didn’t think it was going to come back and then when it did, I was glad to get across. I was actually a little bit tired when I got across, I had Ken Hanson in front of me and I had Brad Huff, and the two Borrajo brothers and I’m thinking ‘oh I’ve got my work cut out for me here’. Coming into the last corner, I was probably sixth and then my gears started to jump unfortunately but I have good legs, I’ve just come off a two week training camp in Boulder. ”
About his year. “It’s been a busy start in January, I raced 23 days. I actually didn’t reach the States until a couple of weeks before Redlands. It’s been a little bit of a slow year for myself and also V Australia, as everyone knows, we had a bit of a hiccup last year with Pegasus collapsing and V Australia continued up. It just coming together now. V Australia just had our first training camp in the middle of May, we’re looking forwards to having a really strong second half of the year. Tonight is the start of it.”
Anibal Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home). “It was a complicated situation for us because we knew with Ale in the break, it was a good situation for us but the breakaway didn’t open a good gap, we were waiting for the sprint too with me. In the last lap, we caught the break and Ale led out the sprint for me but Cantwell was a little bit faster today than us and congratulations to him.”
“We were lucky the rain stopped because at the beginning of the race, it was almost impossible to [stay at the front], especially the second turn, it was like gasoline. I crashed on the first lap.”
Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home). “The race was crazy because of many crashes, it was very hard to turn all the time. It makes the race harder. After half the race, there were many attacks and people were a bit more tired, I see a moment to attack and I attacked with another guy. We had a gap, and then two riders came up and we started to work together and that’s it.”
About the final lap. “With four corners to go, I hear the boys, Ani yelled ‘go, go’ and I go. I was working for myself but when I heard Anibal behind me, I started the leadout for him but I was strong today and I couldn’t get the separation at the finish.”
“On the second corner, I went straight into the street, I hit my two wheels on the barriers, both flatted. Fortunately I didn’t crash (laughs), the people were screaming ‘ahhhhh’.”
Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly). “It went away with maybe 15 laps to go. I had been in a move with Amaran and Kayle for five or seven laps, Amaran was working for the first couple [of laps] and I think he was told to not work and then we got caught. That counter-attack went with all those guys. Alejandro Borrajo actually initiated it, he went away, it grouped up to four guys. It got organized and got a pretty good leash, obviously Jamis was content to let that stay away, and Fly V hadn’t been there and they were kind of getting a little bit of a chase going but they didn’t have a lot of the numbers at the front so I asked Huff if he was doing okay and had a sprint, and I was still feeling pretty good, I knew I could bridge to up and I’d still have something left for the finish even if it came back so I went and got there. I was actually surprised we stayed away as long as we did because we were working pretty good but it didn’t feel that we were going as fast as we could have gone.
About the final lap. “We got caught with about half a lap to go. The gap never got big enough to stay away, I think it was between 5 and 10 seconds and we finally got caught. I think the last two laps I was never further back than fourth, I couldn’t or see anything. I didn’t know we had gotten caught until the second to last corner when the swarm happened.”
About the final sprint. “Alejandro went on the backside of the figure-8, I got on his wheel, I made big mistake, instead of just starting my sprint before the second to last corner, I tried to stay second wheel, got boxed in and never was able to get out my sprint again and ended up fifth and then Huff was luckily fourth. It’s good spot for a shot at the overall win, it’s frustrating that we couldn’t get the win tonight. There was a lot of jockeying for position in the last corner.”